|Mark Hertenstein gets first turns of the season|
|Boot-packing up the hill|
You take advantage of what nature gives you.
It’s hunting season, so you’ve got plenty of company in the high country that gives you plenty to think about, particularly if you’re moving fast off-trail and in the trees.
We weren’t sure what the mountains had to offer this weekend as temperatures warmed nearly 40 degrees in about 48 hours. Were we to hike? Snowshoe? Ski?
We packed hiking boots, snowshoes and our backcountry telemark skis.
We stopped at Kings Hill Pass and decided the snow, about 2 feet of it, would support our skis.
There is evidence that Showdown Ski Area is already getting ready for the season, which opens Dec. 8. There is a ski hut at the base of Golden Goose run. The new lifts are freshly painted and ready to go for the bunny hill skiers. They replace the poma lifts that will no longer be operated.
At the bottom of the hill the snow is a tad icy windblown. At the top, there’s good, deep powder, if somewhat moisture-laden.
We took seven telly runs, most of them on a 200 foot stretch of Big Seven. It took me two runs to get my legs back, and once they came I relaxed into the hill.
I was surprised that there were a couple of other skiers on the hill including a very good telly skier from Lewistown, who was going from bottom to top and back on Big Seven, and a downhill skier we found kick-stepping his way up the hill with his skis on his back, vociferously envious of our backcountry skis that have crowns on them that allowed us to walk right up.
Surprisingly on this early season expedition we didn’t hit bottom and did not scrape our skis on any rocks. I used my “rock” skis anticipating a bumpy ride.
The weather on Porphyry Mountain was a bit windy, and the sun darted in and out of dark clouds that raced across the sky. The vistas from the hill are remarkable, and no matter how often I go I love to see Big Baldy, Yogo, Neihart Baldy and Yogo peaks as well as the north end of the Crazy Mountains.
Yup, it’s time to get the skis out, reglue the skins, and switch your summer pack to winter.